BAY VILLAGE, Ohio - Bay Villagehas joined the long list of communities and businesses that have gone tobacco-free.
The city adopted a policy of hiring only tobacco-free employees last week. The mayor has decided to go further, banning the use of tobacco altogether from all city-owned property outside of municipal buildings.
"It's a little bit of a gutsy step," said Mayor Deborah Sutherland. "When you see people struggle just to get a breath and it's unnecessary, self-inflicted."
Sutherland said the ban is necessary because smoking causes preventable diseases that are expensive to treat. She said she also was inspired by the effects smoking has had on the health of her 86-year-old mother.
"She's in great health otherwise, but she's got emphysema from 50 years of smoking and it's just heartbreaking," Sutherland said.
The new hiring policy took effect Aug. 15, but, it won't affect current employees who smoke.
Bay Village Police Lt. Calvin Holliday was at three packs a day when he quit. He said he agrees with the mayor.
"It's a personal battle. Other people can give them tools and help, but it's something you have to defeat yourself," he said.
Meanwhile, others like Pastor Jay Roller hate smoking, but don't agree with the mayor's policy.
"I'm a person. I love freedom, you know. I don't like to hinder people from doing what they like to do," Roller said.
"You're discriminating, as well. You can't do that. I would say that's not a good reason there," said resident Michael Kolinick.
Sutherland said things are running smoothly so far, as they move toward wellness throughout the city. She said they're even offering cessation classes for city employees who voluntarily want to quit.
"It's been received pretty positively for the most part. I've got some employees I kid them. I say ‘We're coming after you. We're going to get you to quit,’" said Sutherland, laughing.
"As part of our hiring process, we already have pre-employment physicals, drug testing to go along with that, so nicotine testing will be added," she said.
If someone tests positive for nicotine, they'll have a choice of employment and getting help to quit within a 60-day window, then they'll get tested again. If they fail the second test, they will not get hired.
"We're prepared. We feel that we're on very solid legal grounds and certainly that's my decision as the CEOof this organization," Sutherland said.
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